Stout Stew and the Reasons for Purchasing Grass-Fed Over Conventional Beef
Last summer my neighbors and I split a half a cow. The reason was two-fold. I wanted grass-fed beef, and I knew that I could save money on it by purchasing it in bulk. However, earlier this month Cooking Light posted their review of grass-fed versus grain-fed (or conventional) beef, and it broke down the benefits for grass-fed much better than I could have ever hoped.
Reasons to Make an Investment in a Grass-Fed Cow:
1. Avoiding hormones and antibiotics. I don't feed my children a daily dose of preventative antibiotics. I don't want the cows that will be used for food to be fed a daily dose of preventative antibiotics either. Read more about antibiotic resistance. I also don't give them growth hormones so they grow bigger, stronger, faster than their peers. Same goes for the cows.
2. Use it all. We live in a very wasteful society. We throw away containers daily that processed foods and beverages are packaged in. Boxes, bottles, cans. Not only do we throw away those things, but we feel like it's our right to be picky about what we use and what we don't use. A full quarter cow forces us to use the parts that we aren't accustomed to buying, to learn how to use them, and to be better stewards of the land. Get creative. If you don't like beef stew, try using a roast to make a slow cooker beef seasoned with cumin and lime for tacos instead.
3. Calorie counting. The article in Cooking Light looked at the calories between the two types of beef. If the average American consumes 67 pounds of beef, you'd eat 16,642 calories less per year by eating grass-fed beef.
4.Cost. While purchasing grass-fed, organic beef from the supermarket will run you a pretty penny, purchasing in bulk will save you money, even beyond the conventional meat. Yes, it's an investment up front, but if you can set the money aside and make the investment, then you're set with high quality meat and less savings overall. (Cooking Light placed the savings at $300/year for a ½ cow purchase.)
Stout Stew (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's The River Cottage Meat Book)
3 slices thick-sliced bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped into 1" pieces
1 pound carrots, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds beef stew meat, chunked
½ cup cornstarch
5 cups stout (like Guinness)
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Brown the bacon in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Add in the garlic, stir once to start the cooking and immediately add in onions and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the butter to the pan and quickly dredge the beef through the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Brown all sides of the beef in the pan. Add in the stout to deglaze the plan and dump in all the bacon and vegetables, along with the bay leaves and the bunch of thyme. Simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper, remove bay leaves and thyme stems. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.
We enjoy eating this over colcannon.
Makes 8 servings.